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  1. 4 Work Habits to Help Increase Your Performance at Work

    March 31, 2015 by Jenna

    We all want to be top performers at work. We want to work hard, achieve goals and be recognised for our efforts.

    Here are four habits that will help you achieve more:

    1. Make Yourself Accountable: While working independently is advantageous, it is also important to have someone that you report your progress to, whether it is members of your office team or a supervisor. This can often enforce more urgency and effort to complete the task when you know you need to report your progress to someone on a regular basis.

    2. Discipline yourself to set priorities: It will make it easier to focus on the important tasks. Address the higher priorities in the morning when you are freshest and save the more repetitive ones for later in the day. If you receive assignments as the day is winding down, use the last five to ten minutes to prioritise for the next day. Lists are very helpful, and checking items off as you complete them will further encourage you to accomplish more.

    3. Don’t let fear prevent you from completing challenging tasks: If fear takes control of our daily lives it can paralyse us from completing tasks. It results in achieving less and we may start avoiding commitment to tasks. The remedy for fear is planning. Start by making a list of things you have accomplished (even if it’s only two or three) and keep it in a visible place to use as self-encouragement. Then make a list of things you want to accomplish and the steps to complete each one. The best way to successfully complete a big project is to break it down into smaller pieces.

    4. Avoid Procrastination.The longer you put off a task the more it will end up haunting you. You can save a lot of time and stress if you work on the difficult/important tasks first, then the rest of the day will seem less daunting.

    What steps do you follow to keep yourself performing at your best? How do you keep track of your progression? What works best for you?


  2. The time for change – By Narelle Hess

    January 6, 2015 by Jenna

    It’s strange how a brand new year makes us re-assess our life and priorities. As the clock struck midnight to the end of 2014, I know many friends and acquaintances that were so happy to open a brand new blank page. A new year provides us a chance to make resolutions for those changes we want to make. But as we all know most NYE resolutions fail. Why? For most it can be summarised in two key roadblocks: fear of change and our own self-doubt. We all know there are areas of our career, relationships or personal development that need to change – so how do we overcome the fear and self-doubt?

    The first key roadblock is the fear of change. Forced and unforced change leads to an unpredictable response. From denial to frustration to anger to tears to joy and right back around again. I’ve worked with those on the precipice of wanting to change, coached those leading organisational change, and supported those experiencing forced changes. All take effort, commitment, and hard work. But as one of my clients said to me just this week: “without risks come no rewards”. Without change there is no progress. However, for change to be successful we not only need to commit to the needed changes, we also need to identify a support team. Because you will go through that unpredictable emotional response, you’re only human. What changes do you need make? And more importantly who will help you keep accountable and cheer your successes towards the changes you need to make this year? (To watch a TED talk on what fear can teach us click here).

    The second roadblock is our own self-confidence to make these needed changes. Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome. I am constantly waiting for someone to unmask me. Discover my inferiority. Most of us feel this way. Even award winning scientists needing to “sell” themselves for a new job to leading executives tasked with taking a new leadership challenge. I have met clients from all corners of this country and even different corners of this globe. Analysed many psychometric profiles, coached, trained, facilitated, debated and had many invigorating conversations. People are fascinating and all have more strengths than what they acknowledge and appreciate. We each have so much potential to do amazing things, if we allow ourselves to. Take some time to identify and acknowledge your strengths, and value them. What are your key strengths that will help you make the changes you need to make? (To read more about the Self Saboteur click here).

    And with that, it must now be time for me to write my own new chapter. After 10 years building my career at Challenge Consulting, I’m about to embark on a brand new career adventure. I’m proud of what I’ve built and I’m equally excited to see where Steve and the team will go next. You are all in very capable hands. I’m taking with me fond memories, much laughter and joy, great friendships, exceptional mentors – and most importantly – the lessons that each of you have given me – be it a client that has challenged me, your moment of personal discovery, or an example of great leadership. You all have made the last 10 years exceptional and helped me to develop the all-important skills I need to jump into this next chapter. (To read more about how I developed my career click here).

    I wish you all an abundance of success. Take the time you need to identify the changes you need to make, develop your own plan, and more importantly develop the self-confidence you need to write your next chapter. For those that want to follow my next career adventure, you can connect with me on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/narellehess

    I will now leave you in the very capable hands of my colleagues at Challenge Consulting to support your recruitment, psychometric testing, career transition, and organisational development needs. Find out more about the team here or call the Challenge Consulting office on 02 9221 6422 to discuss your requirements.


  3. Do you know what your employer expects of you?

    October 28, 2014 by Jenna

    Your role has been assigned and management has worked with you to outline your job description and your daily tasks. Now that the reigns have been passed to you, what are the key personal characteristics your manager is looking for?

    I found five characteristics that I have elaborated on that I believe you can apply regardless of what role you are currently in:

    Positive Attitude

    Your attitude will not only affect your relationship with your manager, but it affects your entire work environment (your colleagues, clients, suppliers etc.).

    Employers are looking for someone who looks forward to coming in to work each day. Someone who willingly takes on new challenges and finds ways to accomplish even the most tedious of tasks without complaint.

    We have all been there and know what it is like to be in an environment with someone who is not flexible or enthusiastic about the task at hand. Someone who complains to get out of an assignment or has nothing positive or encouraging to contribute to the group.

    How can you expect managers to trust you will do well in a higher level role if you are not making your current position appear positive? If you are feeling in a motivational slump, try to find ways to clear that negativity so that your thoughts and behaviour create a more favourable lasting impression.

    Dependability

    Being dependable means you follow through on tasks you have committed to. Whether it is a task set by management or a team assignment, your contribution to the task contributes to the overall success of others (and the company), not just yourself.

    Dependability means holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines. It also means knowing when to speak up if you are struggling so that items do not fall behind. To consistently be dependable you need to be well organised and disciplined.

    Continual Learning

    Brushing up on your skills or learning new skills allows you to contribute more to your organisation. You can help the company develop by taking on training in your current position. This helps you become more indispensable in the workplace.

    Continual learning doesn’t mean you need to study on the side part time while trying to balance a full time role. Asking questions, taking advantage of training programs at work, and reading books all count as learning opportunities. You will be seen as showing more initiative in your personal progression.

    Another important note is to accept feedback when it is provided and apply it.

    Initiative

    While you may be comfortable with your daily routine, when is the last time you thought outside the box, or even stepped outside of your comfort zone? Have you tried contributing new ideas lately? Or even volunteered to take on a challenge that no one else in your team has put their hand up for?

    This will give your employer a chance to see you in a new light. To show a side of yourself that you may not have had the chance to show before. You won’t be successful every time but it’s a good way to establish where your strengths are and learn from your experiences.

    Cooperation

    Almost every job will comprise of an element of teamwork and being able to co-exist with others to collectively achieve goals. Each team member will have strengths and skills that they contribute to the team. Working in harmony will make it much easier to reach success.

    Not only will getting along with team members make your environment more enjoyable, they can encourage you and motivate you to achieve your best and vice versa.

    Managers need to know that they can rely on their team to perform and it won’t help if you are the missing link.

    Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas and show how your skills can help the overall outcome of a group assignment.

    Do you follow any of these traits? What do you think your employer expects from you the most? How do you meet those expectations?


  4. When it comes to setting goals, don’t let obstacles hold you back

    October 14, 2014 by Jenna

    We have all been guilty of setting a goal and getting side tracked. But when it comes to your career progression it is important to break through the barriers that may be preventing you from achieving success.

    So what are some of the main obstacles that could be holding you back from achieving your goals? Is there something that you can think of right now? More importantly, what can you do to overcome them?

    While conducting research on the topic, I sourced an article on the top obstacles to your goals and added my personal perspective on ways you can overcome the obstacles:

    1. Procrastination – Are there certain items that you have been avoiding and you notice the paperwork and emails are slowly piling up? Do you keep telling yourself – I’ll do it this afternoon, tomorrow or next week? Does it suddenly become urgent and you wish you had tackled it sooner?

    Try this instead:

    – Firstly, be aware of it, admit it to yourself, and take action to change it.

    – If it is a tedious task that you don’t enjoy doing, get it out of the way first and don’t keep putting it off.

    – Set up a list of tasks and put them in order of priority for the day.

    – Set a timeframe in which to complete it, this will give it a sense of urgency and a deadline for you to achieve the task.

    – Repeat this process for longer term goals as well

    2. Lack of time – Whether it is work, family commitments, the daily commute etc. Different commitments will pull at your attention and dedicating time to your goals can be difficult. However, it is important to make sure that you are managing time to balance everything on your plate before you add more to your to-do list.

    Try this instead: Firstly, establish what you currently have on your to-do list and narrow down your top three priorities of the day. By setting yourself three realistic priorities to accomplish you will feel a greater level of satisfaction completing those items as opposed to trying to tackle 54 items at once with no results.

    3. Lack of organisation/motivation – Sometimes when we let projects and paperwork build it can appear overwhelming and you often don’t know where to begin.

    Try this instead: Pick one project and work on a specific goal around it. Get clear on what you need to do to achieve this goal – do research, seek training, and then write out a time frame in which you need to achieve it by. And most importantly, hold yourself accountable for it so that you are continually driving yourself and not losing focus on the task at hand.

    4. Distractions – Meetings, phone calls, emails, reminders, social media connections or a colleague or manager asks you to drop what you are doing to complete and urgent task. Does this sound familiar? Wish you could block out the world long enough to complete that project? But how?

    Try this instead: Sometimes it can be as simple as advising your colleagues that you are working on an important assignment for the next hour or two and to approach you only if it is urgent.  You may need to divert your calls to voicemail for a period of time or put an out of office reply on your emails until you are done. And if your phone or other devices are set to make noises to remind you of appointments or when you receive a message, it may be best to set them to silent. Allocating the amount you wish to shut out distractions is up to you, as long as you can make the most of that time to be productive and achieve your desired results.

    What do you find are some of the major obstacles that you find come up with goal setting or pursuing a goal in your career? What steps have you taken previously to overcome them? What did you learn from the experience?


  5. Personal Development – The Importance Of Keeping Up To Date

    June 17, 2014 by Jenna

    While looking after the promotion and social media side of the business, I am constantly online reading. I am reading up on social trends, latest apps, industry related articles, you name it. The more technology is advancing, the quicker information can be available and more I need to be on the ball with what is going on so that I can market our business the right way.

    At the same time, I still need to maintain my duties in administration with telephone enquiries, skills testing enquiries, event organising and printing/filing/data entry tasks. I am very privileged to have a varied role because there is always something to do, and most of the time tasks need to be done within a short time frame.

    How do I keep up to date with what is required within my role? Without overloading myself I look at different mediums:

    Following companies online that share industry news – This allows me to receive industry updates as well as invitations to events.

    • Sharing information through LinkedIn groups – Again this involves following online networks that appeal to your role or industry. You can direct questions to the group and share information or blogs from your website.

    Networking Events – Meet like-minded individuals on a more relaxed, social scale. Find out about latest trends, software applications, what duties are required of individuals etc. Not to mention finding out contacts that can provide further training and development through word of mouth.

    Attend training workshops – This helps me keep up to date with my skill sets and also find out about latest tips and tactics on how to market to my industry.

    • Setting personal goals for progression – what do I want to learn over the upcoming weeks, months or year? Am I keeping myself accountable and keeping an up to date checklist?

    I meet with a mentor every few months – Someone who is in a more senior and experienced position who can guide me with expert advice, but still allows me the authority to make my own choices and go in the direction I feel is best.

    So what are the advantages of keeping up to date in your industry of work? While researching the topic I found the following three benefits outlined by MindTools.com:

    First, you’ll make better decisions, and you’ll spot threats and opportunities early on, which can give you a competitive edge. This is especially important if you contribute to shaping your organization’s strategy. It’s also important if you’re involved in sales and marketing, where it helps you identify and take advantage of the sales opportunities that come your way.

    Secondly, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power. By developing expertise in your job and your industry, you’ll earn the trust and respect of the people around you. From a leadership perspective, this is invaluable!

    Finally, it will alert you to changes that you need to think about.

    As change is a common theme in business, it is important that you keep yourself up-to-date so that you are prepared to take the next steps in your career and assess any unexpected situations that may arise. It is important that we continue to drive ourselves to be our best and continue to prove ourselves as valuable assets within our organisations and further drive the business and ourselves towards success.


  6. New role in leadership – Tips on leading your team

    May 13, 2014 by Jenna

    Learning to be an effective leader takes time. All of the great leaders we have come to recognise and revere had to learn and grow their skills over time.

    If you want to pursue a role in leadership you need to understand that your prime responsibility is to your organisation, your team and your clients. So how can you devise an effective leadership strategy to keep your team moving on the path towards success?

    While doing research on the topic I found an article on Career Realism that outlines 5 Tips For Good Leadership Skills:

    1. Communication is key
    Communication is important for many reasons – it builds connection and relationships between other colleagues and team members, it expresses ideas clearly and it also creates an open environment for others to express their ideas. It’s important that others know what is required of them, and if employees and colleagues feel like they can openly approach you to communicate on issues this will create a sense of trust.

    2. Wrong can be right
    Encourage creativity amongst your team and try different approaches to help your organisation reach success. If the idea fails, it is important not to discourage individuals to not input ideas but to instead assess what worked and what didn’t work to come up with plausible outcomes for the future. Keep inspiring others to think outside the box and work together to come up with new solutions.

    3. Look into the future
    Every great leader has a vision, and setting a plan into motion with your team is valuable to help you reach these goals. Make sure to meet with your team to share your vision and establish with each person his or her part to aid in the completion of the objective. This will not only keep your team members motivated but also accountable for their tasks and willing to work together for the overall outcome.

    4. Passion is contagious
    If a leader is enthusiastic and believes in their work, others can’t help but be enthusiastic to partake in the project. This also includes recognising and outlining the hurdles that the team may encounter as well so that they can try and prepare themselves for what lies ahead. Keeping up the enthusiasm and a positive attitude however will keep the momentum going regardless of what stages your business will encounter.

    5. Know Yourself
    This involves identifying your own strengths and weaknesses. It may also be best that while in early stages of the role you keep record of the goals/tasks that you have set out (or even making an important decision) and re-evaluate the outcome in nine to twelve months’ time. It is important to pinpoint where you and your team have excelled and where you may have fallen short for improvements to be made for the future. Did your course of action meet expectations?

    For current managers, do you find these points effective for potential new leaders? And for recently appointed leaders, what steps are you following to grow and develop yourself as well as your office team?


  7. 8 Ways To Get Ahead At Work

    April 8, 2014 by Jenna

    gold star

    Keeping your skills up to date is one of the key requirements for career progression, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.  Here are 8 more ways, outlined in WomansDay.com to get ahead at work:

    1.       Take on diverse assignments

    How often do you offer your assistance or ownership to new tasks? Letting fear of failure prevent you from doing a task will not help stretch you any further than where you are now.

    Perhaps there is an area of work that you are not familiar with or have not been trained on before. Why not take the opportunity to pair up with someone who is experienced in that field on a task and learn new skills? Management will appreciate your initiative to pursue new directions and learn about different sections of the organisation and roles of your team members.

    The more that you can get involved in at work, the more you are showcasing what you are capable of, and you never know what opportunities can open up as a result.

     2.       Put out fires before they start

    If you notice any potential conflict or errors on the horizon do not be afraid to speak up or use your initiative to try and solve the issue. This shows management that you can use good judgement in stressful situations and can be reliable in events when they may require an extra pair of hands.

    3.       Ask questions

    Many of us perceive the idea of asking too many questions as a sign of weakness or lacking the ability to follow instructions. In fact, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and potential problems occurring if you ask a lot of questions early on, especially when it comes to taking on new tasks or responsibilities. It is the role of management to train and guide you in the right direction, and if it appears that management may being going through a busy period find a point of contact within your organisation who may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    4.       Find-and learn from-a mentor

    While your manager can coach you on a current task, you can receive an incredible drive by directing your long term goals with someone. It is also a good motivator knowing that you have someone to be accountable to, who will follow up on your progress, whom you can receive advice from. A mentor can be anyone – a friend, colleague, or someone by mutual acquaintance (This links to a previous Challenge Consulting blog: Lessons I have learned from my mentor).

    5.       Get to the point

    Make sure when you are putting forward a new idea, proposal, and reason behind why you may want more responsibility that you keep to the point. Be confident with what you put forward and don’t waffle on. Management and colleagues will have other tasks that they also need to attend to, so they will appreciate it if you are a sharp shooter and don’t beat around the bush. Being more direct also shows that you taking the matter seriously and that you are looking for a more direct response.

    6.       Take control of your career path

    If you want advice on where to take the next step in terms of responsibilities and your career path, have you actively gone out to seek direction? Is management aware of your plans, motives, and goals? Have you set out a timeframe, follow up meetings, what training may be required? And are you following through on any feedback or advice that you may have been provided?

    Write things down, put reminders in your calendar, find your daily source of motivation and discipline yourself to follow through on what you have set out for yourself. After all, it is your life, only you can complete what you have started.

    7.       Mind your attitude

    Keeping an open mind to participate in any group or individual activity (or at least approach it with a smile) people will be more inclined to want to work with you or for you. Being proactive is much more beneficial than being a naysayer or complainer. You can use positivity to motivate others around you as well because having a positive working environment can be just as important as a positive mindset.

    There could also be a situation where you may not see eye to eye with a colleague or management on an issue at work. Instead of getting into an argument over the situation, address it sooner rather than later and try to collectively work together to find a solution. It is important in these cases to keep an open-mind and try to see the other person’s point of view.

    8.       Don’t boast about your accomplishments

    While it is important to inform management of your successes (and often we can be excited and wrapped up in the accomplishment) try not to extend every detail or repeat the same story over and over again.

    Accomplishments are important to take note of and keep on record, especially when times of review are approaching and you can specify what you have contributed to the company. Make sure you have a strong case if you are putting this forward to be considered for a promotion or salary increase. If management does not considered this a strong enough case at that point in time, make sure to ask the appropriate questions on how to get there, and if you can have a follow up meeting to discuss further opportunities.

    Have you followed any of these steps when it came to moving up in your career? If so, what direction did it take you? Was it where you expected it to go?


  8. Resilience without discipline or perseverance achieves nothing

    October 29, 2013 by Jenna

    Anyone can say that they are flexible and adaptable when it comes to change, but when push comes to shove is it really true? When the going gets tough, do you hold yourself accountable and push forward?

    I follow a lot of people that I consider to be ‘inspirational’. I find that the quotes they post, the experiences and blogs that they share and what they have achieved continue to guide me in the direction of the goals that I would like to achieve.

    But it is not as simple as setting out the path and walking in that direction – there will be storms, there will be obstacles and there will be setbacks. And that is why when I reflect on the stories of those that have achieved great things; I am most inspired by the times when they faced trials, and what they had to do to overcome these.

    Anything that you are passionate about takes work, it’s inevitable, and that is what makes the experience worth it when you get to the finish line.

    This year alone has been an incredible journey for me personally. Just after new year’s day I was standing at the base of Mount Everest looking upon where some many other climbers and explorers have traveled before me and in August I encountered war history walking along the Kokoda Trail where many Australians fought and lost their lives. These were not only physical challenges but emotional, with experiences I have taken back with me that I will never forget.

    While this was all planned way in advance and I was as thorough as I could possibly be with my planning, this did not mean that I wasn’t going to face challenges along the way. I also had to discipline myself in the following areas:

    Financially – Preparing for vaccinations, travel insurance, flights, meals, guides, porter fees, emergency spending money, gear lists, training fees etc. I had to budget and arrange payment plans well in advance to make this work.

    Physically – Taking extra time out of my ‘personal time’ (mornings and evenings) to physically prepare myself for the journey. I had joined an altitude training gym, bushwalking groups and  regular gym appointments to make this happen, and sometimes the appointment locations were at least an hour away from where I lived. I also had to discipline myself to not turn down appointments for social plans or compromise my training goals or else I would have struggled when it came to doing these treks.

    Emotionally – Often the mind will not agree with what is beneficial for the body to prepare for these kinds of goals. Yes my body and mind were tired, yes I could create many convincing excuses as to why I shouldn’t do something, yes I could convince myself to eat that pepperoni pizza instead of salads or healthy foods. This was probably the biggest battle of all when it comes to changing your lifestyle for a goal is wanting to resort back to creature comforts!

    Time – Sometimes it is hard enough planning what you are going to achieve in a week let alone six months ahead or more! I had to diarise my time like you wouldn’t believe, and it made it so much easier to balance my work and personal life around this schedule leading up to my goals and also reminding myself of what was to come as there are often distractions or unpredictable situations that can temporarily take you off course.

    You are probably reading this and thinking, ‘How did she stay with it? How could she have not made mistakes or broken her routine along the way?’ Of course I made mistakes! I am human after all. I would sleep in, eat that pizza and even whine or cry my way out of doing something because I was frustrated and tired. The point of discipline however, was that it made me more aware of what I was doing and if I slipped up I would have to make up for it, plain and simple.

    But it took me practice to gain the right mindset in order to persevere with my goals. What I mean by that is, the natural response your mind will often have when you choose to follow those creature comforts instead of following your set out plan is to condemn yourself. That negativity then expands into feelings of doubt and your mind starts thinking, ‘What are you doing? If you screw up here how will you get to where you need to go? Give up now, there is no use…’ and so on. I become frustrated when I hear this being expressed from people that I care about because I know this mindset can be a hard one to shake, especially if you repeat it enough that you have convinced yourself that this negativity is true.

    You will regret more however by not seeing what you are truly capable of. You will start seeing results once you start changing and adapting yourself to achieve goals, otherwise if you were to quit and never look back you will never know what could have been.

    I recently looked up the definition of resilience: ‘the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched…’ Now isn’t that a great description of what change can do to us? It will place us outside of our comfort zone and put us in uncomfortable situations to the point where we sometimes think we can’t take it. But you will find more often than not that you can take it (with ups and downs along the way!), and you will know that you have grown once you have seen what you are capable of. I know I have.

    When have you experienced resilience in times of change? What methods did you follow to discipline yourself and to persevere to get ahead?




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